Butcher's Shop  — Prize Meat at Christmas

Butcher's Shop — Prize Meat at Christmas from the Illustrated London News (23 December 1843): 416). 15.6 cm high. Signed “Landells.”

How can the politician pass this shop
Where the thick fat doth so much lean anoint
And grumble at the times: he ought to stop!
How dare he say "the times are out of joint."

Can't he be satisfied — it is meet that he should!
Butchers have traits of good like other men.
Why should he cut them, pray — or if he would —
Why not as follows — "Cut and come again."

Has mutton ever done him any harm,
That he casts on it such a sheepish eye?
Has beef ever done him any legal wrong,
And does he wish to sue it, by the bye?

No! grumbler cease — be happy, Christmas fare;
It's most unfair to quarrel with, and so
If, without more palaver — I declare
You do not go, Sir — then you are a "no go."

This picture from the Illustrated London News makes clear the sheer abundance of food that characterized the ideal Victorian christmas. The man wearing a top hat his hand resting on his walking stick, like the woman by his side, appears to be a member of the middle classes (the working classes could not afford such meat, and the wealthier classes would have had the meat delivered to their back or kitchen door.)

Scanned image and caption by Philip V. Allingham from a copy in the Robarts Library, University of Toronto. Formatting, commentary, and image correction by George P. Landow. [You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]

Last modified 7 July 2011